It has become obvious that 2013 is going to be a difficult budget year for DoD Industries. Now is the time to stay focused and concentrate on the things that directly support the Defense Strategy. Everyone from Secretary Panetta on down has clearly stated that our Defense Strategy will focus on a swing towards the Pacific, without a buildup of forces. The clear winners will be technologies that can support the “rotational deployments” needed to succeed in an Air-Sea Battle.
As all the “stuff” gets packed up out of the war-zone, tough decisions will be made on how to dispose of the high-end technology systems that have been developed over the past decade. Much of it will be discarded, but smart companies will focus on how they can reuse much of these systems to support the PACRIM.
Unmanned Systems, the new “must have” darling of DoD, has developed, mainly stove-piped, to support real-world requirements in theater. Many of these systems were delivered with their own, unique control systems that were not compatible with each other. These need to be consolidated into common control systems that work well together, are more secure, and will save the user time and money in training and maintenance. We can expect DoD to spend money to solve this problem.
DoD leaders are quick to squash any idea that the swing towards the Pacific will result in new bases or infrastructure overseas. Forces that are repositioning will move to existing bases (mostly where they were before the buildup). The force and power in the new Defense Strategy comes from expeditionary, rotational deployments. That means taking war-fighting units that have worked well independently, and putting them onboard ships or rotating them through existing OCONUS bases. The basic IT infrastructure will be radically different for these forces under this scenario. Making their gear work will be essential, and we can expect these types of solutions to be funded.
Most decision-makers are currently loath to approve of new systems embracing new high-end technologies. Thinking out of the box is hard to do under the current budget-paralysis. However, helping DoD make better use of their existing infrastructure will be a clear winner! And if a few new technologies are deployed in the process, all the better. The Company that understands the current infrastructure and can propose ways to make it work in the future environment will have the ear of DoD decision makers.
We can expect the US to rely on our international partners more than ever. Our current multinational networks and information sharing technologies are outdated and need to be improved. Forming new coalitions quickly is critical. Rapidly establishing the tools to exchange secure information, common operational pictures, rules of engagement, etc. in a volatile and rapidly changing contingency is an area where DoD industries will shine.
Now, more than ever, plug-and-play modernization ideas will have merit. Upgrading the existing connectivity and operational centers to perform well in the future scenarios will require the expertise of many of the DoD industries. Rip-and-replace and new-builds are probably not in our immediate future, but incremental improvements continue to be needed and we can expect worthy efforts that directly support the Defense Strategy, to remain high priority must-funds.